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Former Bogota Mayor Steve Lonegan. (Photo by Kevin Sanders for the New Jersey Globe.)

Lonegan: The NJGOP must be torn down and rebuilt as a principled conservative party

Steve Lonegan explains why he dropped his bid for State Senate in the 24th district

By Steve Lonegan, March 27 2023 6:33 pm


I owe it to my supporters to explain why I made the decision to withdraw from the LD24 Senate race. Those who participate in politics have an obligation to explain their actions, so I will do so.

During the early stages of my campaign, it became painfully obvious to me that the New Jersey Republican Party is unprincipled and morally corrupt. This organization stands for nothing and fights for nothing. I would challenge anyone reading this to tell me what strongly held belief the NJGOP has fought for during the last decade? There is none. In fact, quite the opposite.

New Jersey’s Republican Party reminds me of T.S. Elliot’s “The Hollow Men”. They are “the hollow men, the stuffed men”. Head pieces “filled with straw” leaning together in the wind…

Late to the game when parental rights became the biggest driving force behind voter participation, NJ Republican “Leaders” mouth support for parents while standing with the NJEA in supporting every one of Phil Murphy’s Woke policies. S-588, the so-called “Media Literacy Act” is a prime example of the hypocrisy. This dangerous bill is no more than taxpayer-funded censorship and even worse. This scary bill provides that children report “disinformation” to Murphy’s “Disinformation Portal” This portal is part of the state’s Department of Homeland Security and backed by the “authorities”. What do Republicans suppose these authorities will be doing with these reports? How long before men with guns will be showing up at the homes of these disinformation sources? Sound far fetched? Ask Angela Reading her opinion.  Republicans lent their bi-partisan seal of approval to this dangerous bill to Phil Murphy, who promptly paraded this “first-in-the-nation” Woke legislation across the country. Shame on the GOP hollow men.

 In February, I testified against another Woke attack on families, S-3330, the so-called “Grief Counseling” bill. This bill drives another wedge between parents and children by replacing our churches, synagogues, and mosques with NJEA “Grief Counselors”. When I entered the Senate hearing I was stunned to realize I was the ONLY Republican in the room. Not one Republican Senator showed up to participate at this hearing. The entire room was filled with NJEA union activists as this bill creates another army of NJEA union workers, and left-wing Woke activists. Republican Senator John Bramnick co-sponsored this invasion of family responsibility. This bill takes the cradle to grave philosophy of the far left to a whole new level and NJ GOP Woke activists are giving this their seal of approval once again.

The reality is the NJGOP “Leadership” and the bureaucrats who run the  Republican offices in Trenton would rather govern alongside liberal, Woke Democrats than Conservative Republicans. In fact, they hate the conservative base and would like nothing better than for that base to go away. They settle for offering conservative lip service, like claiming they will fight for parental rights while standing with the NJEA, the biggest force behind Murphy’s liberal  assault on parental rights. They shout they will fight to cut taxes while being funded by Local 825, the Gas Tax union. They stand by idly while Democrats redirect funds from Republican communities to failed Abbott districts and suburban taxpayers suffer. They stood silently while Governor Murphy adopted ESG governance standards for the state’s pension investments. Never said a single word.

Senator Steve Oroho has failed miserably as the minority leader. So much so he had to resign in disgrace before the upcoming election debacle destined to take place this fall. Oroho’s first, and most tragic, mistake was to keep the insider staff of the Senate Republican office intact. If ever the principle that “personnel is policy” applies, it is here. These are the people who advise Republican senators on legislation and that advice is always bad. This assumes this was a mistake and not a deliberate plan to maintain the Republican Party’s permanent minority status. Some have speculated that it was a manifestation of Senator Oroho’s close personal and political relationship with Democrat Steve Sweeney, the former Senate President, and a continuation of the collaboration that gave us a huge gas tax increase while protecting the Democrats’ Senate majority in 2017.

If there was a system for the national Republican Party to oust a state party or revoke their charter, the NJGOP should be the first to go. It is no wonder the NJGOP does not adopt the Republican Party Platform. They are not real Republicans.

As I look back over the last three years as a restaurant owner who experienced first-hand the small business crushing  policies of  Murphy, I realized that the NJGOP sat by and did nothing. Yes, they would send out lame press statements, mouth some words but in actuality did nothing and were ineffective. They like it that way. One would think the GOP would embrace a principled conservative with firsthand knowledge of the Murphy administration’s assault on small businesses but in reality, they feared this and preferred the status quo. The “hollow men” leaning with the wind.

Finally, I realized and decided that I would be alone as a principled conservative in the State Senate. I would have no allies – not one.  I can be more valuable running my business, which is getting harder in this state, and working from the outside to expose the political and moral corruption that infects the New Jersey Republican Party. For too long now these “hollow men” have been fooling the conservative base. I suspect their control will be coming to an end soon, not with a bang but with a whimper, and I hope to be part of making that happen.

There is no hope for the State of New Jersey until the Republican Party has been torn down and rebuilt as a principled conservative party. To that end, I can be more effective from the outside.

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